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French Election Open Thread

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Eugène_Delacroix_-_Le_28_Juillet._La_Liberté_guidant_le_peuple

Even if Le Pen gets crushed, it’s still a huge advance for French fascism that she is one of the final two. According to commenter Cheerfull, estimates are that 25.3% of French ballots were returned blank. That anyone on the left would leave a ballot blank with Le Pen on the ballot basically demonstrates why the political self-righteousness and ignorance of large sections of the left explains much about why Donald Trump and Theresa May have won.

[SL]: Macron wins by roughly 20 points. I’m afraid people who want to deny the importance of the Comey letter by imagining some kind of white nationalist Bradley effect and asserting that Trump was really ahead all along are going to need a new excuse — there’s zero evidence for this domestically or internationally.

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  • Cheerfull

    65% macron.

    ETA they’re waving french flags and european ones. Good to see.

    • StellaB

      Too bad that it was that close.

      • Cheerfull

        For what it’s worth, that’s a 30% margin – not bad in this tribal world.

      • TopsyJane

        Given some of Macron’s opinions, a close win would suit me fine.

        • Cheerfull

          A strong Le Pen showing would not have been a good thing for France or for the world. It makes the National Front the clear second party. At least with this result it’s possible that the NF becomes more and more discredited as a possible source of power.

          • TopsyJane

            At least with this result it’s possible that the NF becomes more and more discredited as a possible source of power.

            Agreed.

        • sonamib

          A close Macron win would be a victory for the fascists, not the left.

          PS: There wasn’t really any victory possible for the left. Just the avoidal of the absolutely godawful, worst-case scenario.

          • addicted44

            There wasn’t really any victory possible for the left. Just the avoidal of the absolutely godawful, worst-case scenario.

            Which is a loss for the left because the contradictions won't heighten themselves.

    • Cheerfull

      Note that this is the first estimation – the final actual vote will change slightly.

  • NewishLawyer

    I don’t know much about the French economy but I’ve also been somewhere between an American and the French when it comes to worker right’s and life-work balance issues.

    A lot of American politicians seem to think that there job is to keep unemployment as low as possible which is fair enough. The problem is that the American solution to keeping unemployment as low as possible is to make everything the kind of playground for the corporations and for management too much. We don’t have any laws mandating paid vacations and we work really long hours and on weekends. Plus at-will is noxious as a policy.

    Yet I think the French might take it a bit too far with the 35 hour rule and other issues and to do so in ways that hurt employment and the economy.

    How much are people against Marcon because he is a technocratic banker who is willing to make things a bit more employer friendly? How much is this a hot topic in France?

    • Murc

      Yet I think the French might take it a bit too far with the 35 hour rule

      My parents grew up in a world in which the standard workweek here in the states was 35 hours (nine to five Monday to Friday is 40, minus five hours of lunch is 35) and it doesn’t seem to have hurt us much.

      Hours-per-week rules seem to me as if they’re very good ways to increase employment and force economic redistribution back to workers, in addition to the added benefit of, you know, not working people to death. I’d go so far as to say I’d like as to try even more stringent ones.

      How much are people against Marcon because he is a technocratic banker who is willing to make things a bit more employer friendly? How much is this a hot topic in France?

      “Quite a few” and “very.”

      • NewishLawyer

        So why did the Socialists fail and Marcon and Le Pen advance?

        I get why the mainstream right-winger did advance because of his corruption scandals.

        • sibusisodan

          There’s been a Socialist President the last 5 years. It hasn’t gone well, such that he’s the first Pres not the run for a second term (not able to judge how much of that is actually Hollande’s fault and how much is systemic).

          That has had knock on effects on the Parti Socialiste, which is in seven kinds of disarray.

        • Murc

          So why did the Socialists fail and Marcon and Le Pen advance?

          Le Pen advanced because fascism is popular enough to allow her to do so.

          Macron, as near as I can tell, advanced because the French left is a combination of “splintered” and “fecklessly incompetent,” and because he personally is a charismatic politician who ran on an “independent outsider” platform that appealed to a lot of people who are fed up with the aforementioned incompetent fecklessness.

          Disclaimer: I am far from an expert.

        • Phil Perspective

          Macron was the architect of Hollande’s unpopularity yet somehow re-branded himself. He started a new party so no one knows yet if he will get help in the French parliament or not. The Socialists failed like other Socialist parties have been failing. They adopted “put bankers and business first, instead of people” that is unpopular and uninspiring around the world. Also, the left-wing parties could have made it to the run off if Hamon had dropped out, but he didn’t.

          • econoclast

            So then why didn’t Mélenchon beat Macron? He’s not tied to the PS and Hollande. Why didn’t Macron and Fillon split the center-right vote, causing Mélenchon to be the one who advanced to the second round?

          • addicted44

            The Socialists failed like other Socialist parties have been failing. They adopted “put bankers and business first, instead of people” that is unpopular and uninspiring around the world

            People hate bankers and therefore hate socialists because they didn’t arrest bankers and therefore voted all the bankers into power.

            Yup, makes complete sense.

            You may consider the idea that retribution against bankers may not be as popular an idea amongst the masses as your friend circles would indicate.

        • CrunchyFrog

          As in most countries, the party of the left accepted the basic premise of austerity. It’s a flawed premise, as Krugman and others have documented in detail, but it’s a great morality play and it’s been wholesale adopted as the viewpoint of the elites. Of course, implementing austerity means the people get treated like crap. If your party on the left does that you go looking elsewhere.

          The Democrats did this less so than most European parties on the left, but the failure to follow-up with the stimulus, the failure to use the HAMP act to help people instead of banks, and the whole Simpson-Bowles exercise demonstrate that the Democrats were bad, just not as bad.

          This, more than anything, is why so many marginal racists are looking to the emerging fascist parties for help.

          • econoclast

            Given that the Democrats are the most Keynesian party in the entire world, other than the Chinese communist party, makes judging them as “bad” on austerity absurd. They made policy mistakes, sure, but then they lost Congress after two years.

            • Lt. Fred

              I would have to also suggest that the Australian Labor Party ought to be on the list somewhere.

    • StellaB

      What has happened in Spain and what is happening now in France is that very few permanent jobs are being created. Most new contracts are “temporary”, effectively “at will” jobs. They still have better benefits, including the shorter work week (mostly disappeared in Spain), vacation, and maternity leave, but not what the permanent contract employees enjoy.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      You need to read more Dean Baker. The French labor rules don’t “hurt their economy,” they simply place a higher value on periods of not working (during high school and college, on vacation, and after age 60) than we do here. Their employment rate among prime age workers (25-55) is consistently higher than ours by a good margin.

      • Brett

        I read the same post, and there’s two problems with it:

        1)If it was a case of young and old workers simply choosing not to work as much, it wouldn’t be showing as higher unemployment (which only registers if you have no job and are looking) – but it is.

        2) Baker’s chart doesn’t distinguish between the “Temporary” jobs that StellaB described above, and the “permanent contract” jobs that have all of those famous French labor protections (plus a very favorable labor court system). If he’s going to make an argument that French labor protections don’t hurt prime age employment, then he’d need to do a chart contrasting full-time permanent contract employees in France vs full-time employees in the US.

    • TopsyJane

      Yet I think the French might take it a bit too far with the 35 hour rule and other issues and to do so in ways that hurt employment and the economy.

      What is excessive about a 35-hour week rule? For many if not most, that’s plenty of time to get done what you need to do during the average workday.

      • Mellano

        And productivity starts to decline not too far after that point anyway.

        Also my understanding is that for a lot of the white-collar / professional workers, the 35 hour rule isn’t very constraining anyway … either not applicable or with enough exceptions that in practice it had little effect.

        • addicted44

          For white collar jobs I believe 6 hours/day is pretty much the most you can work productively.

    • Chetsky

      I think the French might take it a bit too far with the 35 hour rule and other issues and to do so in ways that hurt employment and the economy.

      A long time ago, Lord Keynes prophesied that we would all have much, much more free time, b/c as productivity mounted, we just wouldn’t have to work as much. Instead, the rich skim off that excess product. 40/35 is … what? 15% ? This chart tells me that productivity in France is up nearly 6x from 1950. And France can’t go to 35 hr/wk?

      The -con- is the belief that there isn’t enough value in the economy to afford us all a decent life. That’s the -con-. Don’t fall for the con.

      • numbers

        Those lazy Germans work the least number of hours per week in the world (1371 hours per year, equivalent to 30 hrs a week and 6 weeks vacation).

        France: 1482 (average for Western Europe)
        US: 1790 (average for developed countries)

        All three countries have nearly identical GDP per hour worked (~$60), so there’s almost no difference in efficiency, just a difference in priority.

    • sonamib

      Yet I think the French might take it a bit too far with the 35 hour rule and other issues and to do so in ways that hurt employment and the economy.

      Why? Do you enjoy dedicating most of your waking hours to your employer? Because French productivity is actually the same as the US. The US has a higher GDP/capita only because Americans work more.

      • djw

        Indeed, if the future produces a world where productivity continues to increase but the need for workers decreases, and some sort of UBI remains politically and practically out of reach, rendering access to one of these “jobs” central to claiming one’s share of society’s prosperity, the practical necessity of reducing the hours associated with jobs may become a major priority, and not just for the left.

  • catbirdman

    25.3% voted for this guy?

    • Cheerfull

      To repeat something below, actually only 9% approximately voted a blank or null ballot. 25% or so did not vote at all, but that could include people who did not vote for a number of reasons.

      My apologies for being misleading about this before.

  • LeeEsq

    Based on a NYT article I’ve read about the French election, many French citizens in the working class immigrant communities, the type Le Pen demagogues against, aren’t enthused with Marcon for the reasons Newish outlined.

  • jpgray

    That anyone on the left would leave a ballot blank with Le Pen on the ballot basically demonstrates why the political self-righteousness and ignorance of large sections of the left explains much about why Donald Trump and Theresa May have won.

    To me, this always seemed a curious way of looking at things. Mostly because you can easily flip the blame around:

    That anyone on the left would leave a ballot blank with Le Pen on the ballot basically demonstrates why the political ineffectiveness and organizational impotence of left party leadership explains much about why Donald Trump and Theresa May have won.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      In this case, Macron doesn’t even call himself “left,” fwiw.

      And I agree with Loomis about blank ballots.

      • Phil Perspective

        Macron is center-right economically.

        • louislouis

          Which is the worst part. I fully expect the “only a centrist like Cuomo or Booker can beat Trump” party to start anytime.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            Literally nobody (except EliHawk and maybe his brother Chris) likes Andrew Cuomo.

            • louislouis

              True. My point was – and I’ve already seen the argument on Twitter – is that Hillary was too far left and Dems need a center right candidate in 2020.

    • NewishLawyer

      The problem with UK Labour is that what is really popular with their base is not popular with the general population at large.

      To a certain extent, I admire Labour for sticking with their guns and beliefs but the cost of this is political wilderness. This is the same thing that caused Labour a long hard exile from 1979-1997.

      • farin

        How much are they in the wilderness because of their policies and how much because of their leader?

    • sibusisodan

      That doesn’t make sense. Political parties which are to my taste may be more or less organised.

      A badly organised party in no way frees me from the voting obligations of a citizen. Voting responsibly is the easiest of these obligations.

      • jpgray

        I’m trying to understand the strategy here – is the idea to wait until people are no longer ignorant and self-righteous rather than find methods of organizing them and obtaining their votes?

        In other words, a large number of self-harming abstaining leftists indicates an unusual disease of voters, and not a failure of parties?

        If not the parties, whose task is it to reach out to the irresponsible voters and bring them into the fold? Or is it no one’s task but the individual voter’s, and we all just have to wait around until they figure it out?

        By your view, there are no successes and failures among left party strategies for an election, just more or less responsible sets of voters?

        • sibusisodan

          I’m trying to understand the strategy here

          What strategy? This is just the basic nature of a democracy: individuals have responsibility.

          Blaming parties for my lack of civic responsibility is incoherent.

          Of course there’s a major problem with voter engagement, and parties do have an effect on that over time. I do not know how to solve that.

          The fact remains: no degree of fuck up on the part of PS makes abstaining from voting against the fascist the civically responsible thing to do. It’s not a hard case to assign responsibility to!

          • jpgray

            But doesn’t this mean a campaign strategy against a right-wing candidate can never be said to be more or less successful? You can only say the voters were more or less irresponsible?

            • sibusisodan

              No, it does not imply that.

              In normal circs, campaign quality matters at the margins, and there are frequently multiple plausible voting options. Very few elections are a straight runoff between fascism and something else.

              • jpgray

                What are you basing this on? If the entire messaging, platform, and organization of a party matters only at the margins in an election between these parties, what then is NOT at the margins?

                • sibusisodan

                  …the fundamentals? Overall economic position, incumbent satisfaction, political stability.

                • jpgray

                  But party strategy has an enormous influence on all of that, since the parties govern the country?

                • sibusisodan

                  Yes, government has a marginal influence on all those things, and some of those margins get quite large.

                  But for the present example, it’s moot. Neither party was in government.

        • UserGoogol

          Yes. Change comes from the bottom up. The underlying zeitgeist is what drives politics, politicians are just dragged along for the ride.

          • jpgray

            This is simplistic in the extreme. By your logic, what people in the US want from the bottom up is to cut taxes for rich people and gut social services?

            • Murc

              What a lot of people in the US, especially on the right, want is white nationalism.

              There’s a shit-ton of those people. They installed their candidate into the leadership of the Republican Party and it turns out white nationalism was sufficiently popular to make the election close enough to steal.

              Trump’s platform, as opposed to his actual in-office policies, was very, very popular indeed. Let’s not forget that.

              • jpgray

                But the idea that the feelings exploited by Trump sprung up organically in the wild in a mass of individuals simultaneously is ridiculous.

                These feelings were carefully cultivated, not a spontaneous growth from the bottom up, with politicians helplessly clinging on somewhere.

                It just seems hopelessly naive to see politics as all about individuals imperturbably thinking for themselves, and that powerful institutions play no active role but merely affix themselves to directions chosen from the bottom up. Why bother with the Club for Growth, or Fox News, or Breitbart in that case?

                In that sense, can’t a party or movement be a piss poor cultivator?

            • UserGoogol

              I was oversimplifying, but I don’t think to the extreme. The social forces which lead people to vote for politicians are complicated and not merely the result of the General Will deciding what policies it wants. But that doesn’t mean politicians have control over the outcome.

              We live in a capitalist society, so there are structural biases which motivate people to support policies which benefit the rich. The idea that the rich control this process is what’s simplistic in the extreme.

            • Chetsky

              More than you might think. More than you might think. Many studies have shown that (for instance) while people say they support single-payer, they sure ain’t gonna give up their employer-sponsored health insurance. Lots of “average” people don’t realize how little they pay in -income- tax. The percentage of Americans who think they’ll be rich “soon” is …. ludicrously high.

              Also, poorer people don’t vote. Lots of that is not their fault: as Atrios and others have pointed out, when the cost of trying to get ID/registered/vote is a decent chance of losing your job, and the job is all you have, you don’t start down that road.

              • jpgray

                But people are not organically expressing their unique opinions on these matters, they are selecting from a limited set of broad frames, concerning a limited set of issues. We almost never choose those frames, even if we sometimes choose the issues.

                This is true when we vote in an election, when we read/speak about politics, and increasingly even when we just THINK about politics.

                Being scared/angry about a policy designed to benefit you and most people like you, believing you will benefit from policies designed to benefit 1% of the population – these beliefs require careful and expensive cultivation by the GOP and its allies, not a helpless latching on to individually reasoned views developed in solitary contemplation.

                And if a party is poor at cultivation, it can and should be blamed for it. it seems to me that some are arguing here that there can be no evidence a party is poor at cultivation.

                • delazeur

                  Being scared/angry about a policy designed to benefit you and most people like you, believing you will benefit from policies designed to benefit 1% of the population – these beliefs require careful and expensive cultivation by the GOP and its allies, not a helpless latching on to individually reasoned views developed in solitary contemplation.

                  You have that backward. Conservative leaders observed the zeitgeist and cynically rode it to power; they did not create the zeitgeist.

                • jpgray

                  Yes, let us remember 2000, when the bottom-up zeitgeist was that Al Gore was a horrible liar, or 2004, when the bottom-up zeitgeist was that some purple hearts should be mocked, or 2016, when private email servers and their suitability were all the zeitgeist cared about. Nobody cultivated any of that – it was merely an organic outpouring of the middle mass weltanschauung.

                  I mean, you have to start from SOMETHING when you cultivate a belief, but you can bring things very far from their point of origin, it’s not all just a helpless riding of the waves.

                • delazeur

                  Let’s be clear: do you believe that the individuals who wore purple heart bandaids at the 2004 RNC bear any personal responsibility for doing so?

                  Either you don’t, and you have a genuinely terrible worldview that denies personal agency to anyone who isn’t an “elite,” or you do, and you have an utterly inconsistent argument that is transparently intended to paper over your own awful choices and discredit Democratic leadership regardless of reality. I’m genuinely unsure which it is.

                • Chetsky

                  The bottom-up zeitgeist since …. 1980? (at least!) has been much simpler, and much more stable:

                  *those people* are getting *your* stuff! Don’t let ’em! Everything else is just a distraction.

                • jpgray

                  or you do,

                  I do!

                  and you have an utterly inconsistent argument that is transparently intended to paper over your own awful choices and discredit Democratic leadership regardless of reality.

                  What do you suppose my awful choices to be?

                  I suppose it comes down to whether you believe organized wealth has a greater degree of political agency in this country than a gestalt of individual opinion, or not. To me, the middle-aged lady with her purple heart band-aid is absolutely deplorable, and responsible for her poor behavior, over which she had control.

                  She is emphatically less deplorable and responsible than the party machinery and leadership that conceived and promoted the practice, absent which she would never have engaged in such behavior, nor would the idea have ever occurred to her.

                • delazeur

                  What do you suppose my awful choices to be?

                  You are defending lefists who choose to abstain rather than vote against fascists. I think it’s reasonable to assume that you made that same decision, but even if you merely sympathize with that decision it’s fair for me to call that an awful choice on your part.

                  To me, the middle-aged lady with her purple heart band-aid is absolutely deplorable and responsible for her poor behavior, over which she had control.

                  Okay. To me, the leftier-than-thou assholes who prefer abstention to stopping fascism are absolutely deplorable and responsible for their poor behavior, over which they had control.

                  She is emphatically less deplorable and responsible than the party machinery and leadership that conceived and promoted the practice, absent which she would never have engaged in such behavior, nor would the idea have ever occurred to her.

                  Your lack of faith in the ability of people to be creative and think for themselves is disgusting, and your belief that people hold no malice unless elites instill it in them is hilariously naive.

                • jpgray

                  You are defending lefists who choose to abstain rather than vote against fascists.

                  Where do I defend that behavior?

                  I do believe left parties and elites bear some responsibility for organizing the left vote as it exists, not as they wish it would be. I’m not saying ALL responsibility, but the more that organized wealth is privileged in politics, the more responsibility for the state of politics must lie on parties, their leaders and allies, etc., as opposed to individuals.

                  Okay. To me, the leftier-than-thou assholes who prefer abstention to stopping fascism are absolutely deplorable and responsible for their poor behavior, over which they had control.

                  Absolutely.

                  Your lack of faith in the ability of people to be creative and think for themselves is disgusting

                  I have enormous faith in both, but those abilities in individuals are allowed only very meager expression in our political system. Inflexible deficit hawkery surely is a strong (if mistaken) belief among many people in the US, but that sentiment is freely championed or derided only insofar as it is useful for a party’s political goals. We see the same thing above with respect for service and heroism in combat.

              • delazeur

                Lots of “average” people don’t realize how little they pay in -income- tax.

                Mitt Romney’s 47% remarks come to mind.

                • Chetsky

                  It’s interesting how those who rail against taxes invariably rail against all the various taxes (state, federal, sales, income, whatever) but when it comes to *those people* free-riding, why, it’s all about income-tax. As if the working poor don’t pay FICA.

                  Which brings back and oldie-but-goodie — Mr. Alan Mitchell (ne’ Greenspan) telling Congress we had to raise FICA to pre-fund Social Security so it wouldn’t go bankrupt, only to have his intellectual descendants (can pond scum reproduce? Guess so!) tell us all that that pre-funding bought worthless USG bonds, and SS was gonna go bankrupt anyway.

                  Robbed us comin’ and goin’.

    • delazeur

      That is dangerously close to saying that people shouldn’t be expected to think for themselves — leftist individuals don’t get to blame centrist liberal leadership for their own poor choices.

      • jpgray

        But surely the task of the left party in a binary election is to bring in as many votes as possible, to convince as many on the left to vote for the only left choice?

        But when it comes to interpreting the self-harming abstentions among leftist voters, how do you decide between (1) an inscrutable irresponsibility is sweeping the left electorate and (2) the party’s electoral messaging, strategy and organization were failures?

        And can’t you say 1 until the end? That whatever the results, the strategy is always perfect, whereas the voters are more or less imperfect, depending on results, and nothing can be done about it?

        A very convenient doctrine for the political consultants out there!

        • delazeur

          Both (1) and (2) can be true, obviously. The people who are responsible for persuading voters should have done a better job of it, but each voter still bears ultimate responsibility for their decisions regardless of whether political operatives did a good or a bad job.

          That you are unwilling or unable to recognize this fact suggests that you have no sense of adult responsibility or agency. What you are saying here isn’t really any different from a person with a bad diet blaming their poor health on the supermarket for stocking the ice cream in a more convenient location than the lettuce.

          • jpgray

            What you are saying here isn’t really any different from a person with a bad diet blaming their poor health on the supermarket for stocking the ice cream in a more convenient location than the lettuce.

            It’s certainly in the end the individual’s choice.

            Let’s sharpen that analogy up a bit – imagine the Ice Creamers of America (or whatever) embarked on a multi-billion dollar campaign promoting ice cream as good for you: studies, marketing, etc.

            If measurably more people consumed the stuff, and when asked why spouted not some unique individual thoughts about ice cream, but instead the very slogans of the campaign, I think those who conceived and executed the campaign could reasonably claim some responsibility for the increase. Disagree?

            • delazeur

              I think you’ve lost the thread of the analogy. What you are actually arguing, in the terms of this analogy, is that the ineffectiveness of the lettuce lobby (the DNC) absolves people of responsibility for buying ice cream instead (abstaining from voting against fascists).

        • UserGoogol

          I’d say it’s very inconvenient for political consultants. The whole reason why people have political consultants is based on the idea that campaign strategy matters a lot. If it matters only a little if at all, then you can just fire all the political consultants. But people remain fixated on the idea of the political horserace, so they stick around.

          • jpgray

            Not quite – even if you push it to the very margins of all margins, pols would still want that marginal effect, or to have a machine at least as good as an opponent’s, to avoid surrendering that advantage.

            So the doctrine would still allow a terrible failure of a consultant to say “I didn’t fail, I was just as good as, if not better than, my opposite number; I did my job well – the poor outcome is down to our voters, who were just too irresponsible.”

            • UserGoogol

              Perhaps, but their profiles would drop considerably. Politicians also hire fashion consultants, and it may or may not be the case that fashion has a slim marginal effect on elections. But fashion consultants aren’t getting chief advisor positons or getting interviewed on cable news constantly. It’s a nice gig, but people know it’s pretty insignificant.

    • Hogan

      Organizational impotence? I thought they rigged all the primaries.

    • Bill Murray

      I’m not sure how Erik knows it was the left leaving the ballots blank, although I suppose some of the blank ballots were from leftists since there was no particularly left candidate on the ballot. Macrons seems like the French equivalent of Andrew Cuomo mixed with a soupcon of Joe Lieberman

      • Mellano

        Ipsos puts abstentions as 22% among conservatives, 15% among “liberals,” and 28% among leftists. So yes, the leftists had the heaviest abstention rate. Given the voting leftists went 80-20 for Macron (as opposed to 94% among liberals and 70% among conservatives, a lot of those abstentions were gettable for the not-fascist.

        Agreed though on likely Macron’s merits. He was clearly a least-bad vote among the candidates this year, and I expected his support will be about a centimeter deep going forward.

    • wengler

      It’s a long standing belief among Loomis and Lemieux that the left is responsible for everything bad the right gets to do.

      You have a run-off between what would be in the US something like the Natural Law Party and the Constitution Party and you’re surprised that there are a large number of blank ballots.

      • sibusisodan

        A better analogy would be a runoff between an establishment centrist and a clear threat to the republic.

        That is, the 2016 US presidential election.

        • djw

          Well, yes, except of course Clinton ran well to the left of Macron in relative terms. That wengler would prefer to construct absurd hypotheticals rather than acknowledge the basic similarity is telling.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            But pointing that out, as well as criticizing Chomsky cultists, would constitute hippie-punching. And it is the height of LGM shitposting to give measured admonitions to Sen. Sanders about what can be considered legitimate missteps. Because reasons.

            An 11th Commandment for the left does exist, and it’s “anybody not to MY LEFT* is a hippie-punching neoliberal who also smells like a butt.”

            • wengler

              I find it hilarious that people who would make fun of splitters(Judean People’s Front vs. the People’s Front of Judea) are always looking for reasons to attack the people next to them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a post here lately and just rolled my eyes since its the same poking at the divisions in the left, with hundreds of comments making the same points trying to outpace each other in snarkiness.

          • wengler

            That wengler would prefer to construct absurd hypotheticals rather than acknowledge the basic similarity is telling.

            Telling? Am I part of some shadowy conspiracy now? If you don’t think Hillary Clinton would’ve lost votes if she split from the Democrats and formed her own party, then I don’t know what to tell you. The spoilage rate in a Trump-Clinton runoff would’ve been much higher than 12%.

        • wengler

          I actually think that analogy is dead wrong. The 2016 US Presidential election was a referendum on the establishment candidate, while the 2017 French Presidential election was a referendum on the challenger.

  • Mellano

    Le Pen’s 35% is double the percentage her father got fifteen years ago. Maybe the abstention rate bumped it up some. Hopefully the Republicains will be ready for prime time in five years, because I have trouble imagining Macron will cover himself in glory by continuing the policies that gutted the PS.

    • Craigo

      A lot of it is personality. If you have even conversational French, watch and compare videos of Jean-Marie campaigning vs. Marine. He was a nasty little shit and made no attempt to hide it, while Marine goes out of her way to be presentable.

      • TopsyJane

        He was a nasty little shit and made no attempt to hide it, while Marine goes out of her way to be presentable.

        Until the debate, when many seemed to realize that “Wow, she’s a nasty little shit just like him.”

        • Mellano

          Although the commentary that her debate approach this week was somehow shocking surprised me, since it didn’t seem out of line with her approach during the first round debates.

          I’ll have to watch the father sometime. She has a lot of charisma in her presentation, but the racism of her speeches isn’t exactly hidden. Less crude than Trump at his worst but still blatant with a minimal gilding of references to the French culture and tradition.

    • mongolia

      figure it’s 2 factors:

      1. marine “softened the edges” her father – JAQing off about the holocaust as opposed to outright denial, for example, i.e. being the ivanka to her father’s donald.

      2. last time was crude far right vs. traditional right, whereas this time is polished far right vs. cosmopolitan centrist. this *seems* to suggest that those who are in the middle of the two ideologies this time were able to vote for their party in the previous election – though i guess we’d have to wait for post-election data to confirm that hypothesis

      not any sort of expert on french politics, but this seems to be what im gathering from reading people who seem to know their shit

      • Mellano

        Party members holding the line makes sense for 2002. The scary thing would be if the FN is able to erode the traditional PS blue collar voters a la Trump’s WWC voter, especially going forward. The election survey results will be interesting.

  • Phil Perspective

    That anyone on the left would leave a ballot blank with Le Pen on the ballot basically demonstrates why the political self-righteousness and ignorance of large sections of the left explains much about why Donald Trump and Theresa May have won.

    Erik:
    I can’t wait to read your post blasting J.K. Rowling and Tony Blair for their actions this election. As I presume you’ve heard about them both.

    • sibusisodan

      Are either of them planning to leave their ballot blank? I know neither of them like Corbyn, but…

      So what? I don’t like Corbyn either. He’s in the wrong job. My vote will still be for Labour (safe Tory seat, alas).

      Criticising leaders and parties has an effect at the margins. So, it might put Labour’s vote margin to -10% rather than -9%…

      • Murc

        Are either of them planning to leave their ballot blank?

        My vote will still be for Labour

        This is the problem. Blair is encouraging people to vote Tory or LibDem. To “put party allegiances aside.”

        • Craigo

          Tactical voting has a pretty long history in the UK. If you’re in a Tory seat where the Lib Dems (or maybe the Greens) are the second party, is it really so wrong to cast your vote tactically and not tribally?

          • Craigo

            Wait, did he really say to vote Tory? Progressive alliance is one thing…

            • sibusisodan

              Yeah. That took me aback.

              Seems his criterion is ‘anti hard Brexit MPs, of whatever party’

              I’m struggling to think of a situation where a Ken Clarke type is worth voting for over Lab/Lib etc. Especially if they’re the incumbent.

              The idea that Tory MPs will vote against a final deal seems fantastic.

              • JohnT

                I think the only Ken Clarke type Tory I would vote for is… Ken Clarke (who was more or less alone among Tories in continuously and consistently vote against all the Brexiter crap). I would consider supporting a telegenic and aggressively Remain Tory if I thought that he/she could become a flea in May’s side, making the Tories look split on the issue. Especially against a pro-Brexit Labour MP (Hi Jeremy!)

                It’s totally academic though – my local MP is a Brexiter with a big majority.

        • ericblair

          It won’t matter, though. Labour got its ass handed to it two days ago in local elections, with plenty of varied excuses from Labour leadership, and Labour will get its ass handed to it again in tiny flaming pieces next month in the general elections. I very much doubt Corbyn will resign after that, either. It’s a fucking mess.

          • Craigo

            The local elections just demonstrated that the voters are woefully out of touch with the Labour leadership, nothing more. Blairites, all of them. They should just fuck off and join the Tories.

            • sibusisodan

              I’m choosing to read this as sarcasm.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Phil has really been ramping up the incoherent non-sequiturs recently — I think we’re about two weeks away from every single one of his comments just being random lists of people he doesn’t like.

      • wjts

        LOL! Dumbledore Wasserman Schultz!

    • Murc

      Gosh, Tony Blair is pro-Tory. That’s shocking.

      That said, Corbyn has basically picked the worst possible tack to take this election: running as a pro-Brexit candidate. In the election that’s basically a referendum about Brexit. Against the woman and the party who will always be able to be more pro-Brexit than he is.

      I was and remain more sympathetic to, and supportive of, Corbyn than many, because of his popular legitimacy. (Although I think if I’d lived in the UK I’d have voted for Smith last year.) But this was basically the worst possible time for someone with an idiosyncratic “Lexit” perspective to ascend to Labour leadership. Literally any other time in the past three decades it wouldn’t have mattered one bit; it would have been a footnote, “Yeah, Corbyn doesn’t like the EU but he’s not gonna actually do anything substantive about it.”

      Not the case in 2016 and 2017.

      • Harkov311

        Corbyn has basically picked the worst possible tack to take this election: running as a pro-Brexit candidate. In the election that’s basically a referendum about Brexit. Against the woman and the party who will always be able to be more pro-Brexit than he is.

        I agree. The sensible option for an opposition party to take would be to try to appeal to groups that are being ignored or marginalized by the majority party. Unless support for Brexit has grown to the point that it’s a universal consensus (which is hard to believe) then it makes no sense to take this stance.

        • Murc

          Right?

          I mean… Corbyn is kinda, sorta, in a way trying to do this: his campaign message is “Tory Brexit will be worse than Labour Brexit.”

          But the thing is it treats Brexit as a done deal, a fait accompli. Not one peep out of him along the lines of “If you want us to stop Brexit, vote for us!”

          The really annoying part is that Corbyn’s popularity and legitimacy rest entirely upon his support among the base of the Labour Party, which is very, very much anti-Brexit. I mean. One could argue there’s a certain amount of principle in sticking to his guns no matter what, but still. That seems remarkable short-sighted from a purely naked politics point of view.

          Although maybe it isn’t? Once Brexit actually does become a settled issue it’ll be harder to use it against Corbyn. Dunno.

          • sibusisodan

            I actually think Corbyn is sticking to his principles on this one (as he has for other issues, like Trident). And the root of Corbyn’s popularity in Labour is a blend of his policy preferences and his principle.

            He presents himself as the anti-naked-politics politician.

          • That seems remarkable short-sighted from a purely naked politics point of view.

            I typed this into Google and it brought up Jeremy Corbyn's wikipedia page.

          • TopsyJane

            But the thing is it treats Brexit as a done deal, a fait accompli. Not one peep out of him along the lines of “If you want us to stop Brexit, vote for us!”

            Corbyn doesn’t want to stop Brexit and never has done, even when he was saying he did.

            It’ll be entertaining in a grim kind of way when he gets his ass handed to him next month and if he refuses to step down, which given his past pattern seems likely.

      • IS

        Was never a fan, but he fell waaaay into the range of being detrimental to basically everything with 1) hey i dunno maybe we shudnt brexit but really we shld during the lead-in to the referendum and 2) hey, fuck hundreds of years of Parliamentary standards, just because I lost a vote of no confidence doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be the leader of the Labor Party.

    • Chetsky

      blasting …. Tony Blair for their actions this election

      LolWUT? *This election*? That shitstain? Oh puhleez. If he stalwartly voted and campaigned for Labor for a -century- he’d still be working off his sin, hardly made a -dent- in it. Insead he’s just burying himself deeper and deeper.

    • Ronan

      Deleted. Was only repeating Points dealt with in thread(should have just read that first)

  • Cheerfull

    Correction: The abstention rate of 25% is those who did not vote at all. 9%, approximately, voted a blank ballot or a null ballot. Which is still twice the number of those who voted blank in the last election.

  • Sebastian_h

    “That anyone on the left would leave a ballot blank with Le Pen on the ballot basically demonstrates why the political self-righteousness and ignorance of large sections of the left explains much about why Donald Trump and Theresa May have won.”

    Isn’t there the potential that this is exactly backwards? That the neo-liberals put up again and again have failed their constituencies so regularly that a large section doesn’t trust them at all? Treating voters like they belong to a party and don’t need to be listened to is exactly what got us here. Constantly running lesser evilism is dangerous unless you always perfectly judge which types of evils are currently scaring people.

    And that is apart from the point that we have no idea how many blank ballots were turned in by the right who just couldn’t stomach Le Pen.

    • Scott Lemieux

      This is an odd reaction, given that Macron crushed Le Pen with a neoliberal campaign, while Clinton lost running a liberal-hold-the-neo one.

      • joejoejoe

        I’m sure the US electorate would have produced Trump and Clinton as the two finalists in an open run-off system that lasted from March 18 to May 7th. Your fantasy analogy is airtight! I only wish I lived in your analogy and enjoyed the neoliberal dream of 36 days of paid leave and single-payer healthcare.

        • Craigo

          Honestly? Yeah, that probably would have happened. They both crushed their internal opponents pretty easily, and a French-style first round just gives the Greens the opportunity to pull from the left-wing and the Libertarians the chance to pull from the center-right.

    • Murc

      That the neo-liberals put up again and again have failed their constituencies so regularly that a large section doesn’t trust them at all?

      This is absolutely true, but my response is “so what?”

      When given the choice between the guy you don’t trust, and the fascist, you vote for the first guy. It is your responsibility as a citizen to vote for the first guy.

      Treating voters like they belong to a party and don’t need to be listened to is exactly what got us here.

      Nobody is proposing this or doing this. French voters, like American voters, have numerous chances to make their voices heard when it comes to what political coalition they will join and what candidate and policies that political coalition will put forward in an election.

      Sometimes they will get outvoted within the coalition. When that happens, again, you have a responsibility as a citizen to make the responsible choice. That’s a civic duty.

      • mongolia

        Nobody is proposing this or doing this. French voters, like American voters, have numerous chances to make their voices heard when it comes to what political coalition they will join and what candidate and policies that political coalition will put forward in an election.

        this is what gets me about the fucking assholes who do shit like “since i’m in CA/NY, i’ll vote stein/johnson/write in bernie/leave pres blank as a protest” kind of shit – voting for someone DOESN’T MEAN YOU AGREE WITH EVERYTHING THEY DO! you vote to get the person who is most likely to do what you want, and after that you *still* have to fight to push them in the direction you desire – but that requires having someone in power that gives a shit about your opinion or retaining your future vote.

        put simply, you vote for the non-right-wing candidate, then you build a coalition that makes it clear if that center or center-left candidate doesn’t move left, there’ll be hell to pay in the future. and if you can’t animate a wide swathe of voters to your ideology or coalition, then maybe the issue is that your ideology just isn’t as universal in popularity as you imagine it to be.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Also, the idea that Clinton didn’t listen to the left is just farcical.

          • Hogan

            Did she commit seppuku on national television during prime time? No? Then she didn’t listen to the left.

          • louislouis

            Right. They had a $15 minimum wage; she had $12. They had free college; she had no debt if you’re an entrepreneur; they had single-payer, she had “never gonna happen”

            • Hogan

              I think you’re confusing “listen” with “capitulate.”

        • sonamib

          Also, think about it : if the French far-left announces loud and clear their intention not to vote… and Macron wins in a landslide anyway (with a higher margin than what the polls predicted!), they’ve just proven their total political irrelevance. Now Macron will feel free to totally ignore them.

          • Cheerfull

            Which is something I’ve always wanted to say to somebody abstaining or voting a blank ballot: You know what a winning politician thinks about your blank ballot? Just about nothing at all. You had nothing to do with his or her victory. Trump gives not a damn about all those people to pure to vote last year and will continue to do what he likes with the power he was given. And Bush showed him the way.

      • Chetsky

        When given the choice between the guy you don’t trust, and the fascist, you vote for the first guy. It is your responsibility as a citizen to vote for the first guy.

        QFT

    • Asteroid_Strike_Brexit

      Isn’t there the potential that this is exactly backwards? That the neo-liberals put up again and again have failed their constituencies so regularly that a large section doesn’t trust them at all?

      The problems in the French economy are very different from the problems in the US economy. There is greater unemployment in France, but all other measures show that it is better to be poor in France than the US. There is much, much lower income inequality for example. Macron maybe to the right of what you would like, but there is no suggestion he will opt for radical deregulation or tax cuts. According to Yanis Varoufakis, he had good ideas for helping the Greek economic crisis but wasn’t listened to. I think you shouldn’t write him off.

      What you have suggested to me is that you would always call anybody not advocating radical leftism ‘neo-liberal’. Everything to you is failure and despair, lesser evils all the way down. Try discerning shades of grey.

  • joejoejoe

    Are you really taking shots at the ineffectual French Left? The sitting President is a Socialist and Macron got his first and only political job as economy minister in Hollande’s government.

    • Craigo

      The sitting President is so wildly unpopular that he became the first in the Fifth Republic not to run for re-election. The Socialist majority is about to be wiped out and end up as a third party. If not for Corbyn, it’d be hard to find a more ineffectual left in Europe than France’s.

      And it’s not Macron’s only political job anymore.

      • Bill Murray

        and much of that ineffectiveness was the result of adopting Macron’s policies. Probably the main saving grace for France will be that France for Macron won’t do well enough in Parliament to get their worst policies adopted

        • Craigo

          The voters hated Hollande so much for being like Macron that they…voted for Macron.

          Yes, this makes total sense and is not at all completely fucking stupid. Thanks for contributing such wisdom.

          • Murc

            That’s not what Bill said at all.

            He made the (accurate) point that many of the policies Hollande adopted came from Macron, and that they verged from ineffective to unpopular.

            But Hollande is the President. The buck stops with him. Macron managed to evade blame and come out looking good.

            This has… happened more than once in western politics, in many different countries and different contexts. It’s far from stupid.

          • mongolia

            recent u.s. example:

            hillary clinton fav/unfav in 2016: ~ -5%
            barack obama fav/unfav in 2016: ~ +5%

            policy differences minimal, but the electorate is gonna see what they want to see in politicians

          • wengler

            If Fillion hadn’t given his relatives no-show jobs he would be celebrating tonight. Macron had a coalition of centrists, conservatives, and more liberal socialists. Melanchon took most of the Socialist vote and Hamon got the party faithful.

  • Harkov311

    I’m afraid people who want to deny the importance of the Comey letter by imagining some kind of white nationalist Bradley effect and asserting that Trump was really ahead all along are going to need a new excuse

    But they won’t provide one, I’m sure. Part of the white nationalism big lie is constantly asserting that all white people are secretly in agreement with them, actual evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

  • Thom

    Thank god for the result. However, it is galling that the American MSM insist on saying “far right” instead of using the more obvious word, “fascist” in reference to LePen and her party.

    • Ronan

      Far right, or radical right, or ethno nationalist is the correct term though. I’ve seen no expert on the radical right use the word fascist, and most seem to object to it.

      • Ronan
      • sonamib

        I call National Front supporters fascists and collaborationists mostly to annoy them. Then they’re forced to say something like

        “We’re not fascists! We’re just ideologically similar! Pétain was an OKish dude!”

        • Ronan

          I can certainly see the rhetorical uses in everyday language (though think the papers should be more accurate, ie use the academic terminology)

      • wengler

        If you want the torchlight militia marches you only need to go to Eastern Europe.

        • Ronan

          Yeah, they seem to be producing the real deal out east. Relative to them the west euro far right are a collection of sandal wearing hippies.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      How about Vichy? Can we call them Vichy?

  • econoclast

    I think part of what people are missing is the example of Germany — Germany enacted labor market reforms (Hartz IV) and is booming. I suspect that this is basically a coincidence, but this makes Macron’s economic policy look somewhat plausible to voters.

    • Chetsky

      My understanding is that while Hartz reforms did cut labor costs, much of Germany’s success should be properly attributed to its entry into the Euro with an undervalued Deutschmark.

  • Ronan

    Le Pen’s support is surely then significantly overstated if we’re saying roughly 10% of ballots were spoilt and a higher than usual amount of people stayed at home(and these were disproportionately on the left)?

    • Ronan

      So turnout was down from 80% to 75%, and spoiled votes up from 5% to 9%.

  • The Delacroix painting is a splendid piece of revolutionary kitsch. If only Occupy Wall Street had gone with the winning combo of bare breasts, bayonets and top hats …

    • Dennis Orphen

      Goldthwait’s Shakes the Clown is the Citizen Kane of the couterculture, Preminger’s Skidoo, its Casablanca.

  • Ronan

    this? https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?g=dAt6

    eta: was in response to Chetsky but think the comment has been delleted.

  • liberalpragmatist

    OT, but what the hell is this about? What prompted this?

    https://twitter.com/JStein_Vox/status/861415282186866690

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      so Obama says the Ds and Rs have things in common and they should be able to work together. Sarandon says the Ds are basically Rs and we need something else to represent the left. This guy who can’t tell the difference is a political reporter?

  • glasnost

    The worst part about the “Blame Comey” arguments are the lack of thought being put into their own implications by the people making them.

    We’re stipulating that a letter saying “I found some more emails”, followed five days later by a follow-up statement saying “but there was nothing interesting in them”, with in between five days of press coverage that.. really had nothing particularly incendiary or clear in the way of negative bottom lines at all, just a bunch of “ominous sounding” words like ‘investigation’… swung an election. Moved two or three percent of voters’ declared voting intentions. Something like that.

    As we’ve mentioned repeatedly, this wouldn’t even make the top twenty list of negative stories about corrupt and horrible things Donald Trump did during the campaign. And Donald Trump got tons of negative press during the campaign!

    I look at this collection of facts, and I see the “Blame Comey” and the “Blame Clinton” people talking past each other. Stop for a second. Why did five days of modestly negative coverage about a non-event in a confusing barely-scandal cause Hilary Clinton to lose two-to-four points in the polls?

    I don’t really agree with the “blame Clinton” arguments either, at least in the points where they imply that anything Clinton could have done would have mattered. (Certainly not tactical decisions). But you can’t look at this and see anything other than “the marginal winning 3% of Clinton’s support was extremely fragile and/or never really there at all”. But why?

    People making Blame Comey arguments seem to think that there’s no larger picture at all here, except The Media and/or James Comey sucks. To me, not only does something like this happen almost every campaign – whether it’s Jeremiah Wright or Swift Boat or what the fuck ever it is, but this one wasn’t even very good. I feel like the odds are pretty high that something like this would have happened whether James Comey was FBI director or not – if he wasn’t, and there had never been an investigation, it would have been a Wikileaks theme, or something made up about a Clinton Old Days scandal, or yada yada yada.

    Donald Trump’s support turned out to be not reducible (enough) via bad media coverage and ours was. That’s the interesting thing. I tend to agree that if we figure out and solve the structural problems, the tactical stuff like this won’t matter anymore.

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